JULIE BISHOP Friends of Pakistan, friends of Australia. I want to pay tribute to the World Food Program and the team here in Pakistan for the extraordinary work that you've done in recent years in responding to humanitarian needs in this country.
This is my first visit to Pakistan as Australia's Foreign Minister, not my first visit to the country, but it's certainly my first visit to Lahore.
After a very productive day of meetings, yesterday and again this morning in Islamabad, we have made the journey here by road and it gave me an opportunity to see some of the countryside, through the citrus areas, the wheat fields, on a very impressive freeway between Islamabad and Lahore.
I'm particularly pleased to be part of this inauguration ceremony for the Humanitarian Response Facility.
This is a project supported by the Australian Government and the governments of the Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Canada and the United States of America. These six nations responded in the aftermath of the tragic events in 2010 when Pakistan suffered a humanitarian disaster on a massive scale.
The floods covered about one fifth of Pakistan's land mass, almost two thousand people were killed, millions of peoples’ lives were directly affected by the flooding.
Together with the Government of Pakistan and the World Food Program these six countries supported this idea of Humanitarian Response facilities, and I'm pleased to learn this is the fourth of five to be completed out of a total of eight facilities, in the districts most prone to natural disaster.
I believe that boosting preparedness and mitigation measures in the face of emergencies is absolutely vital. To do it with the pre-positioning of goods and life-saving equipment and services in facilities such as these across Pakistan is one of the most efficient and effective ways of responding to natural disasters.
While we hope and pray that there will be no more natural disasters, we certainly cannot guarantee that, given that nature takes its course from time to time.
I also believe that buying and storing local products is cost effective, it means quicker delivery, and it also means helping to sustain local economies. That is very important, I'm so pleased to see the stores of local rice in the warehouse we've just visited.
Australia is also pleased to support training measures and Lola mentioned the emergency simulation exercise conducted here in Lahore last week. We believe that this is also essential as we prepare for the worst, but hope and pray for the very best.
Yesterday in Islamabad I announced that Australia will be providing almost $20 million in additional support to Pakistan in response to Prime Minister Sharif's appeal for more funding for the internally displaced people in North Waziristan and also for World Bank programs relating to trade and investment policy programs here in Pakistan.
Today I'm pleased to announce that Australia will provide in addition to that $20 million an additional $4 million to programs associated with the World Food Program. $3 million specifically for food, nutrition and livelihood support and school nutrition programs and an additional $1 million specifically for nutritional needs of women and children.
This will bring to a total of some $90 million over the past five years of support the Australian Government, that is the Australian people, have provided for the World Food Program initiatives here in Pakistan.
Ladies and gentlemen I am honoured to be part of this inauguration ceremony. I have very much enjoyed my time in Pakistan. The welcome has been warm and friendly, as befits two countries who have common interests, common outlooks and a very strong and long-standing relationship.
Long may the friendship between Pakistan and Australia endure. Thank you.
JOURNALIST [Inaudible] ... even for a little T20 match for the revival of international cricket in Pakistan? And the second part is right now we are fighting the war on terror in the final phase but from our eastern border the Indians are making some pressure on the border. So will Australia ask India not to do this because Pakistan needs to finish terrorism and these terrorist regimes finally?
JULIE BISHOP Thank you for your questions, I hope I heard them correctly. The first question about cricket is one of course of great interest to Australia and Pakistan, we share a great love of a great game. Decisions about where our team plays are left to Cricket Australia but my visit here to Pakistan is designed to underscore the value that we place on the Australia-Pakistan relationship.
In fact we had invited Prime Minister Sharif to come to Australia for the Cricket World Cup but he was unable to be there, but I'm pleased to say that Australia performed rather well in the event. We like to see a full relationship between Pakistan and Australia across many fields - sporting, cultural, trade, investment - as well our cooperation in defence, people smuggling and counter-terrorism.
On the issue of the broader dispute with India we believe it is a matter for Pakistan and India to resolve. We recognise the effort the Pakistan Government has gone to countering terrorism and fighting extremism in this country and the Indian government should be supportive and acknowledge the effort they have undertaken, particularly on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
JOURNALIST Pakistan and Australia have good relations in almost all fields, but there is a lack of cooperation in the field of security and defence. Just two months ago your Army Chief visited Pakistan and met with our Army Chief. Do you think there is a need of deepening in these two areas? Also, Pakistan and Australia share the same ocean, the Indian Ocean, and other countries share this ocean, do you think we should have greater cooperation with neighbours in this region?
JULIE BISHOP You are certainly right, Australia and Pakistan are both nations of the Indian Ocean and we have worked together for a long time in addressing the security risks in our region. It's in both our interests that the Indian Ocean countries be free, safe and prosperous, and I believe that the longstanding relationship we have with Pakistan can only be enhanced by higher engagement between our defence personnel, between our ministers and our parliamentarians.
I have met with General Sharif both in Canberra and I had a meeting with him today to discuss our defence cooperation and engagement can be enhanced. I feel sure that our two countries will continue to work together to counter threats, but also to pursue the very many opportunities in trade and investment that our countries offer each other.
And I hope that my visit here has given some encouragement to Pakistan to look to Australia as an economic partner of choice in energy, agriculture, in mining resources, and education to name a few.
JOURNALIST This is Faisal Raza from Aapna TV. Thank you very much for the visit. First of all can you tell how do you see your visit to Pakistan, how successful was it? And secondly we have just inaugurated a facility in Lahore and Australia has generously donated for this facility as well. So how important are such facilities in mitigating disaster and preparedness?
JULIE BISHOP Thank you for your questions. My visit here, from my perspective, has been very successful.
I've had meetings with the Prime Minister, the National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser, the Interior Minister, the Minister for Planning and Development and of course with General Sharif so I have met the senior leadership in Islamabad and I was delighted to have the opportunity to have such a good range of discussions with the Government of Pakistan.
I came here to Lahore because we believe it is important to support Pakistan at all times, but particularly when you face humanitarian crises such as after the 2010 floods and again in 2014.
We have had some experience with this type of facility in the Pacific - pre-positioning humanitarian supplies and equipment because that's absolutely vital if there is to be rapid response and to save as many lives as possible. So this facility, I believe, will be of great value to Pakistan should there be, God forbid, another disaster of the kind that requires extensive humanitarian response. This pre-positioning and preparedness and these mitigation measures will be vital to saving lives and to assist those who are greatly affected by natural disasters.
JOURNALIST ... Sartaj Aziz, he demanded that greater access be given for Pakistani products in Australia so this is at least one area where Australia and Pakistan have more potential in their relations. So is there any such role Pakistan can have in Australia that you've discovered from this visit?
JULIE BISHOP The Australian Government is very ambitious in pursuing trade liberalisation across our region and around the world. In fact we have negotiated and signed a number of significant free trade agreements, enhancing existing markets and finding new markets for goods, services and investment. Recently we concluded agreements with China, Japan and South Korea and we have a number of other free trade agreements with Singapore, the Unites States and others.
So we believe it's time for Australia and Pakistan to assess our economic relationship and find ways to negotiate freer trade between our countries. We have much to offer Pakistan and I believe Pakistan has much to offer Australia.
I hope our senior officials will meet to discuss ways that we can enhance economic growth in both countries and, of course importantly, job opportunities for the young people of Pakistan and the young people of Australia. And I hope our Minister for Trade and Investment will be able to visit Pakistan to further these discussions.
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